In July, Great Western Power Company hosted a group of incredibly smart and talented young men from The Hidden Genius Project. They quickly proved to to the staff that they have the brains and the brawn as they enjoyed both the mental and physical challenge of rock climbing!
“The Hidden Genius Project is a training and mentoring program for black male youth in the fields of technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities” said Executive Director Brandon Nicholson. Based in Oakland, The Hidden Genius Project was founded in 2012 by a group of like-minded, tech-sector entrepreneurs with the mission of engaging young men throughout the city so that they might develop skills that would quickly empower them to reveal their potential.
”We mostly recruited at Oakland Unified School District High Schools, but we quickly received many referrals from caring community members, parents, family, friends, etc. Furthermore, we don’t utilize GPA or other achievement based criteria, but rather we look for students that are enthusiastic about the opportunity.”
There are no fees for program participants, and prospective students simply apply for the program online, before coming in for an interview. Candidates are then selected to form a cohort of young men that demonstrate a willingness to commit to the rigorous ‘Immersion Component’, in which mentors work with the Hidden Geniuses for two consecutive seven-week summers, and after school throughout the following year. The students continually learn about leadership and entrepreneurship, and the experience culminates in each young man building his own software application.”
And all that hard work is paying off! “Our very first cohort culminated their fist summer by collaborating to build an app that helps people to decide where to eat lunch,” said Nicholson. “The young men in the second cohort built their own applications, including projects to help high school students decide where to apply to college, and how to spend less on the discretionary purchases that they make.”
This year THGP is brining 19 young men into their immersion cohort, and they hope to serve another 150-200 over the course of the year.
The group of young men who visited GWPC were in their first week of a very long 15 months, as they make their way through the Immersion Component of the program. “We saw our experience at GWPC as an opportunity to build team morale among our young men. The guys were able to work together to problem solve, then created their own adventure on the bouldering wall, complete with their own rules and challenges. The enthusiasm they displayed during that time was clearly infectious. The Hidden Geniuses loved the climbing event, and have been begging to go back. We greatly appreciate the support of Great Western Power Company and its staff in creating a fantastic experience that our young men will not soon forget,” said Nicholson.
We love being a home base for our neighborhood in Oakland, and we had a fantastic time hosting the young geniuses! For more information on The Hidden Genius Project, or to offer your support, visit www.hiddengeniusproject.org.